Erich Wolfgang Korngold didn't want to write the music for The Adventures of Robin Hood -- he'd read the script, and felt that there wasn't enough dramatic or emotional depth to provide much of an inspiration for him or a canvas for his music. And he had obligations in Vienna, including a planned production of his newest opera, Die Kathryn. But the government of Adolph Hitler in Germany also had plans to be in Vienna in the late winter of 1938, and fortunately for Korngold -- who was Jewish -- he had business representatives who were more attuned to the political and military realities of the world. At their vehement urging, Korngold not only took the Robin Hood assignment, but arranged for his family to go to Hollywood with him. His operatic plans would be thwarted, but he and his family would be safely out of harm's way when the Germans marched across the border in April of that year. The Adventures of Robin Hood thus ended up as one of the most important scores in Korngold's output, and he did find the inspiration to write some of his more memorable music -- there is one great love theme, and some bracing action music, as well as humor and wit in the score to match the lighter moments of the screenplay. It ultimately proved to be one of his most popular and enduring scores -- alas, there were no soundtrack albums in 1938, and fans of the film's score had to settle for showings of the movie itself for generations. A suite adapted from the score, recorded by Charles Gerhardt on RCA Victor, satisfied some listeners, but this full-blown re-recording was still a welcome release in the '80s. Varujan Kojian and the Utah Symphony Orchestra do a masterful job of exposing the nuances of Korngold's composition, without losing sight of its sweep and majesty. The solos and cadenzas are treated with care, and the ensemble playing is tight and robust, and the orchestra seems even to have pushed the tempos even harder than Gerhardt did. The CD could do with a fresh remastering in 24-bit today, but until that happens this release will more than suffice.
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AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder